POTTSVILLE, Pa. | Sen. John McCain on Monday said a newly revealed radio interview from Sen. Barack Obama adds depth to his "spread the wealth" comments and exposes the Democratic presidential nominee as candidate for "redistributionist in chief."
Clips of the 2001 interview with Chicago Public Radio, in which Mr. Obama talks about "redistributive change," were posted to YouTube and linked Monday morning by the Drudge Report. Mr. McCain said it was another of the "unscripted moments" that are piling up and giving voters a glimpse of an Obama administration.
"We've learned more about Senator Obama's real goals for our country over the last two weeks than we learned over the past two years," Mr. McCain said. "Senator Obama is running to be 'Redistributionist in Chief.' I'm running to be commander in chief."
Mr. Obama's campaign dismissed the old interview as non-news and the candidate began delivering what he calls his "closing argument" that his economic plans will boost the middle class.
"In one week, you can turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street," Mr. Obama told a rally of about 4,900 people at the Canton Civic Center Arena in Ohio.
Both candidates campaigned in Ohio and Pennsylvania on Monday as polls showed Mr. Obama maintaining his lead, both nationally and in key states, and as Republicans, anticipating a looming election defeat, began to point fingers at one another.
In the past week, several prominent Republicans, including fellow members of Congress, have criticized McCain campaign decisions, including to spend time in Iowa over the weekend and to concentrate so heavily on Pennsylvania, a blue state that polls show Mr. Obama should win comfortably.
In Ohio Mr. Obama began his "closing argument" for the final week of the campaign, promising an economic deliverance for middle-class Americans and continued to tie Mr. McCain to President Bush, who is wildly unpopular and is seen as a drag on Republicans' chances.
"In one week, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, create new jobs and grow this economy from the bottom up so that everyone has a chance to succeed from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor," said the senator from Illinois. "In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope."
On Monday, Mr. McCain, who at times has said Mr. Obama will continue the Bush administration's economic policies, settled on a different formulation, acknowledging Mr. Obama is not Mr. Bush - but suggesting he might be worse for the economy.
"We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high," Mr. McCain said.
Mr. McCain acknowledges on the campaign trail that he is the underdog, but has hooked onto Mr. Obama's comments to Joe the Plumber, an Ohio resident named Joe Wurzelbacher whom Mr. Obama told he wants to "spread the wealth."
The Republican started the day in Cleveland meeting with a group of economic advisers and sharpening his own jobs message. He focused heavily on specifics, saying for a middle-class family of four with an income of $42,000 a year, his economic plans would leave the family $4,350 better off than Mr. Obama's.
But in Dayton, he flubbed what was supposed to be his best attack line. The prepared text of his speech had him calling Mr. Obama "Barack the Redistributor." Instead, he stumbled over his words, calling him "the Obama administration - the redistributor."
He read quotes from Mr. Obama's 2001 interview to his supporters, but Mr. Obama's campaign called the interview a "fake news controversy" and blamed it on "the all too common alliance of Fox News, the Drudge Report and John McCain."
"In this seven-year-old interview, Senator Obama did not say that the courts should get into the business of redistributing wealth at all," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, calling the interview one of the McCain campaign's "11th-hour distractions."
During the radio interview, a caller asked Mr. Obama whether the courts are the right place for "reparative economic work."
Mr. Obama said he doubted the courts were the right tool: "Maybe I am showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor but you know, I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts," he said.
In an interview with Politico, which the Obama campaign e-mailed to reporters, a top Obama legal adviser said the interview was a complex discussion about legal concepts that was being misinterpreted as being about wealth redistribution.
"What the critics are missing is that the term 'redistribution' didn't mean in the constitutional context equalized wealth or anything like that. It meant some positive rights, most prominently the right to education, and also the right to a lawyer," Harvard law professor Cass R. Sunstein said. "What he's saying - this is the irony of it - he's basically taking the side of the conservatives then and now against the liberals."
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